Senior Staff Attorney or Staff Attorney

Published 24 days ago

About Us  

Founded in 2003, the Transgender Legal Defense & Educational Fund (TLDEF) is a national organization committed to advancing justice and equity for transgender and non-binary people through impact litigation, direct legal services, advocacy, and public education. TLDEF’s Legal Programs Department currently includes the Impact Litigation Project, Name Change Project, and Trans Health Project. This year TLDEF has worked with a number of the nation’s largest insurers to successfully obtain removal of transgender health exclusions covering millions of members nationwide. We have sued the state of Pennsylvania to end their ban on name changes for people with certain felony records. We have succeeded in improving court rules and statutes governing name changes in Michigan, New Jersey, and New York. And we’re just getting started. TLDEF has kicked off a strategic planning process to sharpen its focus and guide its future development and growth over the next three-to-five years. 



TLDEF is searching for either a Staff Attorney or Senior Staff Attorney who is eager to join a growing legal team to use the widest possible variety of legal tools to advance TLDEF’s priorities for law and policy change to ensure real lived equality for transgender and non-binary people. The Staff Attorney or Senior Staff Attorney will manage TLDEF’s signature Name Change Project. The Name Change Project provides access to court-ordered name changes for low-income transgender and non-binary people through training a cadre of over one hundred pro bono partner attorneys at (currently) ten sites around the country. The Project seeks to expand its advocacy and litigation to eliminate systemic barriers to accessing name and gender marker changes, and to updating documents and records, in both the private and public sectors. The Project also seeks to continuously improve its provision of services, which currently include screening clients, referring them to trained attorneys, and providing oversight, assistance, and follow-up, including post-name change instructions to update documents and records. This position is an excellent opportunity for an attorney who is seeking to employ both litigation and non-litigation strategies for law and policy change, and to further the provision of direct services; there may be some flexibility in the exact balance of duties depending on the successful applicant’s interest and experience. The position reports to the Legal Director and will supervise two Name Change Project Associates. 


Primary Responsibilities 


  • Identify and prioritize strategic goals for expanding access to recognition of transgender and non-binary peoples’ name and gender, in conjunction with finalizing the strategic plan. These may include, but are not limited to, advocating for name changes to become an administrative rather than judicial process, eliminating unnecessary and/or restrictive gender markers on identity documents and in records, eliminating bureaucratic obstacles to correcting documents and records, and increasing access to self-attestation. 
  • Identify and implement opportunities for advocacy with recordkeepers (both in the public and private sector), courts, administrative agencies, and lawmakers.  
  • Leverage the full variety of advocacy tools, including both informal and structured negotiation, demand letters, formal comments to administrative agencies, and the prospect of occasional lobbying.    
  • Sustain a portfolio of relationships with state and local advocacy partners, pro bono attorneys, and key judges. 

Impact Litigation 

  • In collaboration with other TLDEF legal staff, bring impact litigation to end such barriers where advocacy does not suffice.   
  • Candidates seeking the Senior Staff Attorney position would develop a portfolio of one to two cases and be responsible for the cases’ overall direction and for managing the litigation team, comprised of both TLDEF legal staff and pro bono cooperating attorneys.   
  • Candidates seeking the Staff Attorney position would contribute to all phases of the litigation under the leadership of another TLDEF attorney, including development and investigation, pleadings, motion practice, discovery, trials, appeals, and settlement negotiations. 
  • Identify opportunities for amicus briefing, and draft amicus briefs. 

Program Administration 

  • Provide legal oversight of the site Handbooks used by referral attorneys, client FAQs, training materials, and other explanatory documents. 
  • Answer legal questions from our pro bono partner attorneys. 
  • Support Name Change Project Associates with continuously improving the Name Change Project’s systems for intake, screening, data and contact management, and referral. 
  • Assist Name Change Project Associates with troubleshooting day-to-day operational issues associated with the Name Change Project. 
  • Oversee expansion of sites as indicated by strategic plan. 
  • In conjunction with other TLDEF staff, sustain and deepen relationships with pro bono partner firms and national, state, and local advocacy partners. 
  • Serve as a TLDEF spokesperson on gender recognition issues to both expert and lay audiences as needed. This may include interactions with reporters and journalists and presenting at conferences, CLEs, and other public forums. 


Required Qualifications and Skills  

  • Strong belief in TLDEF’s mission and the people who are driving the work forward, including an intersectional commitment to social, racial, economic, disability, and gender justice. 
  • Experience with legal or policy advocacy relating to transgender and nonbinary equality. A successful candidate for Senior Staff Attorney will possess at least five years relevant legal experience. 
  • License to practice law in at least one U.S. jurisdiction; or a degree (J.D. or L.L.M.) from an accredited U.S. law school and registered to take the bar exam in 2022. Ability to become licensed in New York State if currently licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction. 
  • Strong legal research, analysis, writing, and public speaking skills. 
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills that enable you to develop positive relationships with legal clients, pro bono partners, and movement leaders. 
  • Competency at working respectfully and effectively with transgender and nonbinary people of color, those living with disabilities, and those who are living on a low-to-no income. 
  • Proficiency with legal research tools, such as Casetext or Westlaw. 
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office applications and collaborative tools, such as Slack, Asana, and Zoom. 
  • Ability to keep clear records, maintain consistent communication, manage multiple tasks and relationships at once, and strong time management. 
  • Attention to detail. 
  • Ability to occasionally travel in the U.S. and work outside normal office hours including some evenings and weekends. 

Preferred Qualifications and Skills  

  • Professional or volunteer/intern experience with court name change proceedings. 
  • Project management experience. 
  • Proficiency with case management software. 
  • Fluency or proficiency in a language other than English, especially Spanish.  

Personal Qualities 

  • Curious. You possess a strong desire to learn new skills and gain exposure to new experiences. You actively seek out opportunities to continuously improve and deepen your expertise.  
  • Flexible. You enjoy contributing to several projects and managing tasks that may require you to shift gears at a moment’s notice. You have what it takes to thrive in a fast-paced environment and with a highly committed team of attorneys and legal staff. 
  • Humble. You treat all stakeholders with dignity, respect, and compassion ranging from legal clients, pro bono partners, activists, and supporters.  
  • Responsible. You set high standards for your work and proudly take ownership of your responsibilities. You are dependable and trustworthy to carry out your work either on your own or in collaboration with others. You understand that you have been entrusted to create impact for and with transgender and nonbinary communities.  
  • Passionate. You possess an energetic commitment for TLDEF’s mission and the people who are driving the work forward. You are motivated to serve and contribute to a national movement. 


Salary range is dependent on experience and on the position sought: Staff Attorney ($65,000 to $75,000) or Senior Staff Attorney ($80,000 to $95,000). TLDEF offers a robust benefits package that includes 100% employer paid medical, vision, dental, and life insurance; employer contributions to 401(k) retirement plan; 15 paid holidays; generous paid time off; sick time; healthcare flex spending account; and pre-tax commuter benefits. 


Since last year, TLDEF’s office has remained closed and all non-essential work travel suspended. TLDEF employees currently work from home and only visit the office when necessary. The office may re-open in the first half of 2022, but employees currently continue to work remotely.  

To ensure the health and safety of TLDEF employees and job applicants, all interviews will be conducted either by phone or video conference. 


Submit a compelling cover letter; resume or C.V.; and two legal writing samples of no more than twenty pages. Submissions without all required materials will not be considered. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled. No phone calls or emails, please.  


TLDEF is an equal opportunity employer. Black people, Indigenous people, people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people; women; immigrants; people with disabilities, including those living with HIV; formerly incarcerated people; and people with lived experiences of poverty are strongly encouraged to apply. 

About Us  

Founded in 2003, the Transgender Legal Defense & Educational Fund (TLDEF) is a national organization committed to advancing justice and equity for transgender and non-binary people through impact litigation, direct legal…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Education
    J.D. Required
  • Professional Level
USD $65,000 - USD $95,000
/ year
Salary range is dependent on experience and on the position sought: Staff Attorney ($65,000 to $75,000) or Senior Staff Attorney ($80,000 to $95,000)


Temporarily Remote
Work must be performed in or near New York, NY
Associated Location
New York, NY, USA

How to Apply

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